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Poll: Large majority support balanced budget amendment to Constitution

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

According to a recent Sachs/Mason-Dixon poll obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller, a large majority of the public backs an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget, a reform some lawmakers say is on the table in the debt ceiling debate.

65 percent of the public supports the amendment with 27 percent opposed; 8 percent are undecided.

81 percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents support the amendment. Even a plurality of Democrats, the party that typically resists spending cuts, back the amendment by a 45 percent to 44 percent margin.

“Americans are concerned about our nation’s deepening deficit and as a result, an overwhelming number support a balanced budget amendment,” said Alia Faraj-Johnson, Partner and Executive Vice President of Ron Sachs Communications, the organization that commissioned the poll.

A large plurality – 46 percent to 21 percent — also say they would be “more likely” to vote for a presidential candidate who backs the amendment, the poll shows.

The poll surveyed 625 adults by phone May 23 and 24 and has a margin of error of 4 points.

Popular backing for the amendment could boost its appeal to lawmakers struggling to find a middle ground over a pending debt ceiling deadline of Aug. 2.

Like any constitutional amendment, a balanced budget amendment would face significant hurdles, needing to be approved by the House and Senate and ratified in three-fourths of state legislatures.

The hurdles are a reason why House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, have increasingly focused on tangible spending cuts of a given dollar amount rather than process-based reforms like a balanced budget amendment in their negotiations with Democrats over raising the debt ceiling.

However, as the poll’s press release notes, “nearly every state in the nation has a balanced budget amendment.” The state amendments could indicate the feasibility of ratifying a constitutional amendment that would put the same restriction on Congress.

One proposed balanced budget introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, has 221 cosponsors in the House. The amendment, H.J.Res. 2, requires a supermajority for Congress to spend more than tax revenues.

The Ron Sachs Communications Poll asked respondents, “Currently, nearly every state in the nation has a balanced budget amendment, prohibiting states from spending more then they have. The U.S. Congress, however, is not currently required to balance the federal budget. Do you support or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring Congress to pass a balanced budget every year?”

On whether a candidate backing the amendment would boost his or her appeal, the poll asked, “If a presidential candidate supported a balanced budget amendment, would you be more likely to vote for them, less likely to vote for them, or would it not have a major effect on your voting decision?”